Website plagiarism can be discovered simply by using a plagiarism checker or server statistics.
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Website Plagiarism

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With the new Google Panda (or farmer) algorithm update coming into effect this week on an International basis, it is now more important than ever to ensure you have quality content.

Not only that, but if you take the time to write an article or page which will enhance your search engine rankings and reader experience, you should ensure your website copy is original and is not used on other websites, especially if it is blatant website plagiarism.

Website Plagiarism Even if you rank for your article first, then you allow others to re-post it, you are running the risk of Google devaluing your original work and ranking the re-posted article.

This was highlighted recently when I found a Queensland based website owner had copied two justweb® pages in full without requesting permission. The copyright infringer was discovered after checking website server statistics and finding he was hotlinking two images in my original articles. You can also use a plagiarism checker service such as Copyscape to check the Internet for duplications of your own work.

So, not only was this individual stealing justweb® page copy (in its entirety, not just a summary), he was stealing server bandwidth by hotlinking the images as well!

Anyway, if this wasn't a serious breach of copyright, I'd find it somewhat amusing because the copyright infringer summarises my two articles with this pearl:
"Over the years I've spent a lot of time and thousands of dollars training myself in this art of Emotive, Direct-Response copywriting, and in the Webinar below, I'm passing on some of what I've learned for free - no pitches, no offers!"
If the website owner was so proficient at copywriting, one doubts he would need to "borrow" copywriting examples from justweb®! Not only that, he openly promotes a webinar using someone else's copywriting skills!

This is a definitely a breach of copyright, and in Australia, there are a number of ways to approach this problem.

Plagiarism Solutions

You can contact the website owner and suggest they remove the copyrighted material, but, as my IP Lawyer Noric Dilanchian suggests, this simply gives them a heads up and that you are aware of their plagiarism, which then affords them the opportunity to substantially change or modify the material.

Copyright Infringement You might also contact the website hosting company and lodge a complaint stating that a website they host is breaching your intellectual property rights. Good luck with that one.

Another method is to serve the infringer with a cease and desist, or letter of demand from an IP Attorney. This may be an expensive exercise, but is very effective if you value your intellectual property rights. You can of course use a free letter of demand template, but unless you know what you are doing, your result may be less than desirable. It also goes without saying that if an infringer receives a letter from an IP Attorney, they will probably get the impression that you are VERY serious about the matters raised, and be more inclined to act in your favour.

An important thing to note is that an infringer may also be harming your Google search engine results. I know for a fact that the aforementioned infringer's web page displays in Google's search index. In this case you can apply to Google to have content removed from its index under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright ACT). Use this form to do that. Just make sure you have a solid case as false or misleading reports can land you in a heap of trouble.

Summary

In Australia, copyright laws are quite clear. The Australian Copyright Council includes some very useful information in their website, but following is a brief summary of what you should be aware of:

Australian Copyright Council Generally, copyright is infringed if copyright material is used without permission, in one of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner, but there are some situations in which people can use copyright material without permission, either for free or on other terms.

A copyright owner is entitled to commence a civil action in court against someone who has infringed his or her copyright, and may be entitled to various remedies. Some infringements of copyright - generally those that involve a commercial element - are also criminal offences, and various penalties can be imposed if someone is convicted of a copyright offence or issued with an infringement notice.

Generally, copyright is infringed if copyright material, or a "substantial part" of it, is used without permission in one of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner. There are, however, some situations in which copyright material can be used without it being an infringement.

Courts determine whether a part is a "substantial part" by looking at whether it is an important, distinctive or essential part. The part does not necessarily have to be a large part to be "substantial" for the purposes of copyright law.

The full guidelines can be downloaded from the Australian Copyright Council in PDF format.

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Rob - JustWeb

18.04.2011


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